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Scottish International: The new benchmark in tournament presentation and organisation

Scottish International: The new benchmark in tournament presentation and organisation
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Monday after a circuit tournament for me usually mean tying up some loose ends and thinking ahead to the next trip doing the job I love to do.

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Today is somewhat different as I find myself still engaged with the tournament I have just come from and thinking to myself how lucky I am to have been involved in what is now the new benchmark in circuit tournaments.

I had never been to the Scottish International before but I already knew about the Scott’s attention to the finer details in tournament preparation. This trip had added excitement as all the pre tournament grapevine chat was about the new Emirates Arena, only opened last month, which was to host the Scottish International for the first time.

Upon my arrival at Glasgow Airport I was instantly hit with the impression that this tournament was going to be special. There to meet me were two of the immaculately turned out hostess team in matching uniforms and the smile to match their appearance.

Arriving at the arena it was hard not to be taken aback by the sheer vastness of the brand new Emirates arena. To try and give you some impression of the size of the complex it can be summed up by the hall for practise which itself had 12 badminton courts.

Immaculate Court Presentation

They say first impressions last and as I entered the tournament hall I was immediately struck by the attention to detail, and more importantly for me as a photographer, the expansive lighting rack above the courts that would not have been out of place at the All England’s. Finally a hall with a lux value that allowed us photographers take some photos that would stand the test of time and not have our cameras groaning as they struggled to autofocus on athletes playing the fastest racket sport in the world as we do 90% of the time.

I love conformity of colour and the Olympic hand me down pink carpet nestled beautifully with the blue and white advertising A boards akin to a multimillion dollar tennis event. It really was a stunning sight and something that I have wished to see in all my years as a badminton photo journalist.

As with everything the Scott’s do in their flagship event the playing schedule ran according to the schedule which is a rarity in Badminton these days. The catering and transport service was impeccable. It was interesting to see that the bus drivers, in order to start their buses, had to blow into a breathalyzer to turn over their engines. Scott’s leave absolutely nothing to chance. I even witnessed a bunch of volunteers spend a good hour mulling over the presentation of the podium and affixing Badminton Scotland stickers to maximise the advertising exposure for the federation. Normally podium presentations are an afterthought at the majority of events.

Finals day was out of this world. I have no idea of the actual attendance figures at the finals but given that the arena holds 8000 people I estimated that there had to be in the region of 3000 people there which again is a first for a badminton Europe circuit event. Even the layout of the hall meant that these 3000 people actually filled the areas around the centre court; I have to call it centre court as that is exactly what it felt like. 3000 spectators did not look lost in the 8000 sweater venue.

The fan fare, the expertise of the stadium announcer, the interaction with the crowd and the ‘bangin tunes’ all served up a fantastic Sunday in Glasgow.

It even pleased me is a sort of odd way that the organisers were not happy with our set up as BEtv as they did not want the tournament floor to look anything but exceptional throughout the tournament and I suppose when I look at it we stuck out like a sore thumb which is something we need to address.

All in all it was a tournament to die for, not only was it a badminton tournament but it was quality entertainment and that, in my opinion, is what we need to do with our game. Yes budget is everything and the Scottish Federation have obviously benefited from the impending arrival of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Figures bandied around suggest that there was in excess of 200,000 Euro spent on the lighting alone.

But outside of this the Scott’s pulled it off. Yes they were given the resources but they had the drive and commitment to pull it off and go far beyond excellent. The only small drawback was the drift in the hall. We all know that this can be the Achilles heel of big arena’s but like everything else this organising committee ,under the directorship of Anne Smiley, will fix this and they have two years to do it ahead of the Games in 2014.

It was a real pleasure to be there for this first badminton extravaganza in the Emirates Arena. Badminton Scotland can be proud of what they and their volunteers achieved. I can only image what the Commonwealth Games will be like in this arena but one thing is for sure no stone will be left unturned.

Well done Scotland and thank you for a great week.

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